These days, it seems we are often called upon to deal with people whose beliefs may be in strong opposition to ours. A colleague working within a large university-based medical center asked me for a blog piece dealing with this challenge. Like every medical center in the world today, hers is struggling with COVID. Not only because of the overwhelming number of cases their center has to deal with, but also because so many colleagues and patients have differing ideas about COVID, based on different sources of information deemed acceptable to their way of thinking. Pretty much everybody thinks their way of thinking is right, and other people’s views are crazy. What to do? Step One – Acceptance of the person, and of our shared human frailty: Approximately 100% of human beings have some beliefs that turn out to be accurate, and other beliefs? Not so much. Humility is a…

A woman with a chef hat and apron, looking very stressed. A metal pie pan is at the bottom left.

All organizations have one or more constrained, or more accurately, constraining resources, resources that limit what can be accomplished. To illustrate, imagine that in a moment of poor impulse control, you agree to bake fourteen cherry pies for a company event. You have lots of cherries, lots of flour, mixing bowls, spoons, an oven that holds seven pies, and one, only ONE, pie pan. That pan is your constrained resource. We often think of constrained resources as tangible. For example, the auto industry is currently in a jam. It can’t get enough computer chips to make cars. Show rooms are nearly empty. Want a car? Expect to wait several months. As Rudyard Kipling said, “For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost . . .” But some resources that organizations need are intangible. You can’t see them, but they can…

Let’s say you’re an executive coach to senior leadership in an organization that needs to redefine how to succeed going forward. The organization has had a successful past, but conditions have changed. Most organizations fail to adapt to these changes, and as a result, they get acquired or go out of business. What worked then won’t work now. (That’s why the average age of the companies in the Fortune 500 is under fourteen years.) The stakes are high. What do you do now? You ask yourself, “What leadership approach does this senior leadership team, particularly the CEO, need to embrace?” You do some research. You go to Amazon. You search for “leadership books,” and get 60,000 choices. (Really! I tried it!) “Oh, boy!” you say. “Where do I start? What approach works best?” Science to the rescue! Leadership research shows that a model called Transformational Leadership (TL) actually delivers in…

Are you anxious? Maybe not at this moment, but sometimes? Certainly. Everyone with a working brain has anxiety.  The only question is what we do to manage it when it comes to call. Anxiety is uncomfortable, so we usually prefer not to experience it. But our automatic (unconscious) brain doesn’t just prefer not to experience anxiety – it downright hates anxiety. Left to its own devices, it tries to eliminate anxiety every chance it gets. But that can create problems, because anxiety is actually often quite useful. (Yes, really!) That means that we have to learn how to recognize anxiety so that we can then determine whether it is best to tolerate and use it, lower it, or get rid of it. Why does the automatic brain hate anxiety? Well, the brain has a lot to do. It isn’t just sitting up there in our heads thinking about this and…

The Corporate Poet held the room. Four hundred high ranking, hard charging executives from such companies as IBM, American Express, and Merrill Lynch, as well as those of us who are behavioral consultants, were entranced by the poet’s deep, melodic voice. We were mesmerized by his hypnotic rhythm. Magically, the imagery of his poetry found resonance within our own minds, and took us on our own private journeys. “Corporate Poet” sounds like an oxymoron. Yet David Whyte makes a living by working with companies through his art. His passion for his craft becomes a tool for others to find passion for theirs, or perhaps more accurately, to find crafts for their passions. Whyte’s poetry helps leaders and leaders-to-be discover who they are. That may sound frivolous to some readers. In reality, to understand our deepest passions and align our behavior with them is one of the most difficult tasks we…

A young blond child leaning on their crossed arms on a table, staring at a marshmallow.

The impact of EQ skills starts young. This edition of the EQ Leader Coaching Blog reports a scientific study that is unusual in that it is heartwarming as well as powerful. This is a study that I always make sure to tell my EQ workshop and webinar audiences.  Look at this picture of a cute little kid, smiling and looking longingly at a marshmallow.  In this study, a scientist brings a four-year-old into a room, barren except for a small table and two chairs. They chat for a bit. Then the scientist says, “I have to leave for a few minutes. Here’s a marshmallow. You can eat it while I’m gone. But if you wait to eat it until I return, I’ll give you a second marshmallow.” The scientist then leaves. Some children gobble that marshmallow up as the door is closing. Others wait. They work at distracting themselves from…

Empathy is essential, both for leaders and for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusiveness (DEI) initiatives. The Fall 2020 CLO Symposium had a number of excellent presentations that focused on and extolled the value of Empathy. If you have a chance, it would be worth your while to view the recordings, at Videos – Chief Learning Officer – CLO Media.  But, paradoxically, focusing only on Empathy is likely to reduce the actual practice of Empathy. So, though the discussions were excellent, as an EQ professional I found two things missing.  Attention to the way other EQ (Emotional Intelligence) skills impact the use of Empathy Some presentations left the impression that Empathy and EQ are synonymous. They are not. As important as Empathy is, EQ is much broader, comprised of sixteen different skills. Empathy is just one of them, and it doesn’t stand alone. Focusing only on Empathy is like riding a three-legged…

A coaching client asked me one of those “right way” questions the other day. (I get them often.) In this case, he wanted to know the right way to lead his team. He worried that he would do it “wrong” and mess things up. Experienced coaches know that there are many right ways to lead a team. There are many right ways to do most of the complex tasks that are given to high performers. They don’t give jobs with simple answers to senior people.   Of course, as we talked, my client recognized that there were many good ways he could approach his leadership task. Factors we considered in deciding which ways might work best included his personality, the personalities of his direct reports, the mission of his team, the culture of his organization, and the interests of the various stakeholders, among others. He developed a well-reasoned approach, which included…

These days, leaders who are asked to participate in EQ workshops are far less resistant to the idea of EQ than they were when I started the EQ Leader Program in 2004. The value of EQ has become largely accepted by most leaders in the executive ranks, though in truth, many people want “that other guy” to get some EQ, conveniently overlooking their own gaps. I bet you have stories to tell that would back this up! No matter how brilliant coaches, trainers, and development programs may be, participants will resist the changes requested. They will resist them even when they want to change. This blog post talks about some ways to partner with participants to overcome that resistance.  Resistance is a part of every learning process. Don’t take it personally. It’s just the way we human beings are. Plan for it. You may even feel some resistance as you…

Workshops can be a boon or a fatal error. In this post, we’ll look at how to ensure that your workshops succeed, whether you are the presenter or the person in your organization who is charged with providing effective development.  First, some history: Daniel Goleman’s first book on EQ, published in 1995, created a lot of excitement. Before long, every consultant with a pulse had developed an EQ workshop. Companies bought them by the truck load.  Just one teeny tiny little problem. Almost no one’s EQ improved in response to these workshops. Companies were investing billions, with nothing to show for it.  Why? The workshop model can work well for intellectual mastery, but not behavioral mastery, especially mastery of soft skills like EQ. So those early workshops probably did an excellent job of introducing the concept of EQ, and maybe even convincing people that it would be great to have…